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Jesus Christ - Interesting Facts, Trivia and History

At Christmas and Easter, every Christian school child knows that Jesus is the reason for the season.

The basic story is that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, died on the cross, and three days later rose from the dead. But what else do we know about Jesus the Christ? Just up ahead, check out interesting facts, trivia, and footnotes to history about Jesus' life, death, and resurrection:

Star of Bethlehem
Jupiter and Venus in conjunction?

• Christmas is always celebrated on December 25, but scholars say it is not historically accurate. Astronomers rather pinpoint June 17 as the probable date when a rare conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the night sky formed to create the biblical Star of Bethlehem.

• Mary riding a donkey to Bethlehem is a familiar scene in the story of Christmas, but it's never mentioned in the Bible. She most likey walked.

You can credit St. Francis of Assisi for the first nativity scene, which was originally staged in 1233 in an Italian cave. By the late Middle Ages, the tradition of the Nativity scene had spread to every town and city in Europe.

• Jesus was his name. Christ was his title - meaning "messiah" or savior. In ancient times people were often identified from the place where they grew up, so Jesus was commonly known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus the Nazarene.

• "Tekton" is the word for Jesus' profession in the original Greek, and the traditional translation is "carpenter". But modern Biblical scholars say the word more likely translates to "Mr. Fix-it" or general craftsman.

• According to the Bible, Jesus was partial to bread and wine (Matthew 26:26), lamb (Luke 22:15) and fish (Matthew 14:19).

• Biblical scholars say that Jesus was probably not interested in forming a new religion, but rejuvenating the old one (which might explain the sudden loss of Christ-like composure when this happened).

• What did Jesus really look like? With no description made available in the New Testament, all we have are depictions from religious icons and artworks, anthropologic evidence, and Hollywood movies:

faces of jesus
From left to right: Jesus' face on the Shroud of Turin; a depiction in a medieval mosaic at the Hagia Sophia;
and Jesus as portrayed by actor Robert Powell in "Jesus of Nazareth" (1977). At right, a modern anthropologic
reconstruction showing Jesus with weather-beaten skin and short-cropped hair worn by Jewish men of the time.

• Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. According to the New Testament, one piece of silver was a typical days wage, so Judas earned about 4 weeks' salary for his deed.

• Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion, Jesus was under such incredible stress that his sweat became like “giant drops of blood falling to the ground”. The modern medical term for this is hematohidrosis.

• Public crucifixion was one of the most gruesome death sentences handed out by the Romans. It was generally reserved for slaves or those who challenged Roman authority.

Star of Bethlehem
Wait. What?

• INRI are the letters often depicted on top of the cross during the crucifixion. But what exactly do they mean? It is an abbreviation for “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum”, which is the Latin translation for “Jesus Of Nazareth, King Of The Jews”. According to Biblical accounts, the sign was affixed to the cross by snickering Roman guards.

• Why do we call it Easter? The word comes from the spring goddess Eostre, who was worshiped by European pagans before the introduction of Christianity. Even today, the name "Easter" continues in Western culture along with eggs, baby chicks, and bunny rabbits - pre-Christian symbols of resurrection and new life.

• The male disciples ran away. So it was up to mother Mary and follower Mary Magdalene to spread the good word about Jesus' resurrection. Later, Thomas would not believe it until he he saw Jesus and touched his wounds, and thus gave rise to the term for any mistrustful person, "Doubting Thomas."

• Speaking of Mary Magdalene, nowhere in the Bible does it say she was a prostitute. The notion came about based solely on the the place of her birth, Magdala, which had a notorious reputation for prostitution.


• Today, Christianity remains the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers, or about a third of the world's population.

• One of the world's fastest growing Christian populations is in Communist China. It's predicted that the country will overtake the United States as the world's most Christian nation within the next decade.

• Contrary to popular belief, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is not the tallest in the world. That title goes to Christ the King Statue in Świebodzin, Poland. Standing 172 feet tall and weighing 440 tons, it was completed in 2010.

More about Jesus around the Web:

Historical Jesus - Wikipedia

Easter Science: 6 Facts About Jesus

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